Louisiana issues guidelines for reopening schools

In order to reduce the spread of COVID-19, students will be wearing face masks and washing their hands many times a day when Louisiana schools reopen for the 2020-21 school year.

Whether there’s band and chorus will depend on the state’s reopening status—or the parish’s, if that’s more restrictive—under 16 pages of reopening guidelines released Thursday by Louisiana’s Department of Education.

School systems need to have plans for all-classroom, all-distance and hybrid teaching. If possible, they should have a laptop or tablet for every student.

Two pages of the guidelines are state health department requirements; the rest are “best practices” suggestions for which each district has the final say, said department spokesman Ted Beasley.

Adults and students need to wash their hands at least every two hours, including when they arrive and leave and before and after eating or using outdoor play equipment, the requirements state.

Students in preschool through second grade don’t have to wear masks, and those with severe breathing problems shouldn’t wear them, the guidelines note. Otherwise, they should be worn everywhere, including classrooms.

“Any child over age two may wear a face covering,” the guidelines state.

For athletics, the department referred districts to Louisiana High School Athletic Association guidelines.

Many aspects depend on the state’s reopening phase. For instance, band and chorus will be allowed once the state goes into phase three. Maximum group sizes—including adults—would be limited to 25 people if the state is still in phase two when schools reopen. If it’s in phase three, they could be up to 50 people. If the state has to revert to phase one, the limit would be 10.

Gov. John Bel Edwards announced Monday that the current phase two restrictions will last at least until July 24 because of an increase in cases.  

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